The Global Aid Effectiveness Conference in Accra has concluded with a statement containing progressive rhetoric, but it remains to be seen whether this will be backed up by real actions to ensure that aid benefits the poor.
African Churches and international faith-based organisations have been participating in a global summit on the reform of aid, lobbying to improve aid for the poor. Bishop Mvume Dandala, Secretary General of the All Africa Conference of Churches, AACC, says that “the Churches are seeking justice and development, not bad charity”.
“Churches have raised their voices” said Bishop Dandala “for developing countries to get clear commitments and time-bound targets to put them in charge of their own development, for fewer conditions to be imposed on aid agreements and to get increased predictability of aid flows”.
“The international community came together, but they failed to make enough concrete commitments for action. Sadly the poor will bear the brunt of these lost opportunities”.
Gwen Berge, representing ACT Development, says that “aid alone cannot resolve poverty. It must be designed within a broader vision that would link effective aid, sustainable financing, just trade and debt relief for ‘development effectiveness’. Some of these issues will be discussed in Doha, where the Churches will again raise their concerns for the benefit of local communities”.
Despite disappointments, the forum has seen some gains. Civil Society, parliamentarians and women’s movements in particular have found space to voice their concerns to decisions makers, they have raised their visibility and influence. This provides new opportunities to build on in the future.
Rene Grotenhuis, of Caritas Internationalis, and president of the Catholic development alliance CIDSE, says that “the churches have shown that they are a powerful actor in society to push for greater ownership. With our communities, deeply rooted in their national societies, we as churches will hold our governments accountable to ensure that people benefit from our national resources and from international development assistance”.
Bishop Dandala affirms that “with a global food crisis, more people than ever are facing starvation. We have a prophetic responsibility to remain engaged with this process, to continue to advocate for good change for our people”.
Notes to editors
In 2005, the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, was signed by more than 100 donor and developing-country governments, multilateral donor agencies, regional development banks and international agencies. The declaration lays out 12 indicators for tracking progress, and sets targets for 11 of the indicators to be met by 2010. The 2008 Survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration shows that there has been disappointing progress on many of the targets.
Accra, Ghana, 4 September 2008